Transition Team Post #4 July 17, 2022 9:21 AM   Subscribe

Hi everyone, as promised, we’re sharing the initial survey results. Huge thank-you to iamkimiam for writing the questions, and to bleep, kimberrussell, librarylis, mochapickle, tiny frying pan, and valleys for stepping in to help us tag and summarize the data. bleep jumped in and put together some great dashboards for us to more easily count tags, do error-checking and get a handle on how to start those summaries. Again, these are the initial summaries for this MetaTalk, so necessarily a little abbreviated, but we hope it gives a broad-strokes picture of where the site is right now.

We wrote the survey with the following in mind, taken from the original announcement post: “We’ve set up this survey to help figure out what the community is most interested in, as that may have significant structural implications for the Steering Committee. If everyone’s primarily interested in code changes, having SC members who have a lot of experience with that would make more sense. If everyone’s primarily interested in more moderation coverage, having SC members able to figure out how to do the financing and hiring for those positions would seem to be the priority.”

We think the survey has done a pretty good job at answering those questions for this purpose. We’ve also worked a lot more internally, and with loup and jessamyn, to figure out how exactly the SC might operate – more on that soon, along with how we’re planning on getting things set up and handed over.

METHODOLOGY: We went through each question individually, looking at each response, and assigning one or more tags to it. Some of those tags were broad, some narrow. We made a 2nd pass on each question’s tags to be more internally-consistent but more work can be done. For a couple of these questions we’re just reporting more on general impressions. Expect more refinement in the future as we continue to evaluate the responses.

QUICK STATS: 935 total responders (at least one question answered), across 11 questions. We had 10 beta testers; 9 of those beta responses were included, 1 excluded due to just being test text and not actual responses. I’ve included the number of responses evaluated for each question. In general, if this doesn’t line up with the 935, it’s because they were blank and the responder declined to answer. Sometimes some responses were excluded because they were not addressing the question, but this was a very small minority in each question case.

Question 1: We’d like to understand what MetaFilter means to individual users. In 1-3 sentences, please share a little bit about the purpose or role that MetaFilter serves in your life.

Primary reviewer(s): Brandon Blatcher

931 responses reviewed.

Overwhelmingly, users come to Metafilter for ‘interesting links’ and ‘AskMe’ with each tag receiving around 330 hits. Note that users see different parts of the site (MeFi, AskMe, MeTa, FanFare etc) as individual sites and often prefer to spend time on a particular sub-site. Ask Metafilter (AskMe) is the preferred sub-site for many, with users enjoying reading questions for varying levels of education, entertainment, and distraction. Some also enjoy helping or assisting others, so they like posting answers to questions.

There are several other reasons people come to the overall site, including discussion, news, education (to learn new things or perspectives), a distraction when on break at work or wanting to escape from some aspect of daily life.

The majority of the respondents enjoy the site and demonstrate that by visiting the site regularly. Many make it part of their daily or even morning routine and come back to the site multiple times throughout the day.

But there are a number of people who say they are experiencing a dwindling use of the site, for various reasons. It’s not a huge number of respondents, but feels like a significant number due to the passion expressed in their thoughts. Definitely worth a closer look to tease out the various reasons that they feel the way they do.

Question 2: How do you currently feel about participating on MetaFilter?

Primary reviewer(s): mochapickle, Brandon Blatcher

913 responses evaluated. This was probably the most difficult question for us to wade through.

One constant truth about MetaFilter is that when you ask members about their feelings, they will reliably answer you with great length, detail, and candor, and this was very much the case with the response set for Question 2.

While we received both positive and negative responses to this question, very few respondents claimed to feel 100% positive or 100% negative about their participation. Instead, we received a thoughtful mix of individual takes on what’s working in the community, what’s not working, and what could and should work better. There’s a lot of valuable information here and we recommend a much deeper dive to get the most out of the responses to this particular question.

MetaFilter has a quiet but persistent lurker population, with nearly one third of respondents preferring to read while participating very selectively or not participating at all, often mentioning that it’s consistent with how they interact elsewhere on the internet. For the members who participate selectively, AskMetafilter is particularly popular due to its helpful community, easy format, and straightforward moderation style.
While many members commented on how far the site had come from the boyzone era, there’s a growing vocal concern about increasingly narrowing acceptable political viewpoints with very little tolerance for opposing or even adjacent views.
The site feels smaller. Several commenters mentioned missing particular members who had left the site, while others mentioned that the posting numbers have dwindled on both the green and the blue.
The site feels more aggressive. Commenters routinely mentioned not participating or hesitating to participate due to the fear of saying the wrong thing – or even the right thing in the wrong way – and very quickly finding themselves at the bottom of a pile-on. Vocal members tend to dominate discussions, particularly in MetaTalk.
We’re a tough crowd to crack. Many respondents praised the diverse member base and thoughtful discussion. People feel pressure to write well and respond well, and many report feeling too intimidated to participate. Newer members often feel discouraged by carefully composed posts and comments that fail to gain traction.
But we have fun, too. Metafilter is a place to find interesting links and learn new things. People tend to enjoy the free threads and MetaTalktails, and FanFare is continuing to find a community. The holiday exchange remains popular. And several folks commented on fun IRL events before COVID.
Moderation matters. While many members credited moderation as a primary reason the site works well, several others commented about past negative interactions with moderation and management and concerns about moderation decisions they felt were aggressive or inconsistent and left lasting impressions.


Question 3: What are three strengths of MetaFilter that set it apart from other online communities?

Primary reviewer(s): curious nu

909 responses evaluated

517 responses mentioned either the moderators or moderation directly, or (a fewer set) some effect of having moderators (i.e. lack of trolls, spam)
417 responses mentioned something about site culture – site norms around how to interact with each other, vibes (kindness/thoughtfulness/empathy), as well as literacy and long-form responses being valued over meme-y hot takes
271 responses called out the quality of the members, mostly about thoughtfulness, insight, and expertise on various topics (overlap here with the “culture” tag, but these responses specifically had something about us as people)
244 responses said something about the format (mostly no threads, but also no upvote/downvote, no ads or algorithms, chronological order, etc)
144 responses said something about the sense of community on the site, that it feels like a unique place
107 responses had something about the high quality of posts and/or comments
101 responses mentioned breadth of topics, in regards to FPP on the blue

Other responses (less than 100 each) made some mention of the site’s longevity/history or the fact that many members have been here for a long time; that the size and pace of the site makes it feel manageable to keep up with; that AskMetaFilter is a unique and special place on the internet; and that the fee seems to keep the worst of the trolls out.

The above are the kind of general broad tags, and a later follow-up will break that out a little more. We asked for someone’s top three, so some of those counts might go up if we re-framed this as a “select all that apply”-type question (and that might be a good future question for the SC). But it gives a general picture of what’s most-valued at MetaFilter.

The main takeaway is that people REALLY value the moderation at the site (there were many responses that were some variation of “moderator” or “moderation” three times in a row). Going forward, the SC should be looking to support the site moderation and ensure that it can continue at least at its current level.



Question 4: What is the biggest non-technical challenge you face when participating on MetaFilter?

Primary reviewer(s): kimberussell

868 responses evaluated

93 responses said no non-technical challenges to participating.
~500 responses had something to do with comment negativity
~75 responses had something to do with feeling politically unwelcome (responder typically self-identifying as a “moderate” or “unpopular” in some way)
36 responses about being USA-centric
A number of responses about anxiety, shyness, or feeling like there was a very high bar for both posting and commenting.
Remaining responses could also fall under the negativity banner but were typically about very specific demographics issues

This was a tough one to analyze. The ~approximate counts are due to trying to figure out how exactly to categorize some of the responses that could be read a few different ways or were maybe lacking in enough detail to confidently know what the response was about.

In general, the issue was not about being disagreed with, but the way in which that disagreement was shared. There were a lot of different ways these were worded. Some mentioned, in a generic way, pile-ons, or being attacked. Some mentioned specifically feeling unwelcome for their political views. There was a lot of talk about bad-faith readings, and a general unwillingness to ask for a clarification or follow-up, leading to people being afraid to participate.

Question 5: What is the biggest technical challenge you face when using the MetaFilter website?

Primary reviewer(s): bleep

857 responses were evaluated.

356 responses said they had no technical challenges.
~125 responses mention issues on mobile devices, from banners to long thread navigation to random subsite bugs (~20 responses specifically about bugs)
Some responses about color and accessibility

This is a pretty straightforward question and a lot of this is going to be packaged for the staff and the SC to address as technical fixes. Seeing the notes about accessibility issues was really good, particularly about the colors; the subsite colors are part of MF’s identity, but that shouldn’t get in the way of making things readable, so the SC should look at ways to increase customizability for the site presentation.

Question 6: What do you want MetaFilter’s future to look like?

Primary reviewer(s): valleys

862 responses were evaluated.

207 responses could be categorized as “no change”, though some went on to suggest changes. :) We count these as being generally okay with how the site is, with an additional request.
218 responses mentioned something about wanting to see changes to the participating members, generally around more diversity and inclusivity from marginalized groups and from younger members.
145 responses positively mentioned moderation, and tended towards keeping the moderation at the current level or increasing it.
138 responses wanted to see some higher quality in FPPs and AskMe questions.
129 responses said something about wanting to see a decrease in negativity in comments.

Increased diversity in who participates is the clear standout here, with continued/increased moderation coverage (corroborating with Q3) coming in second. The “higher quality” responses about FPPs were mostly about wanting to see things beyond news and politics, things that can foster more open discussion. The responses about reduced negativity are in line with Q4. There’s a lot for the SC to unpack here: how to make MF more welcome to a wider population, how to encourage a wider variety of posts, and how to reduce the barrier to posting or encourage more discussion beyond criticism.

Question 7:
What’s one thing you wish were different about MetaFilter right now?

Primary reviewer(s): kimberussell

838 responses evaluated.

132 responses were generally about something relating to what the responder viewed as a negative aspect of MetaFilter culture. Mostly this was about tension, aggressive tone policing, pile ons, and the like; correlates very strongly with Q4.
74 responses wanted more diversity in the participating members.
73 responses didn’t see a need for anything to change.
The rest were pretty widespread, but mostly feature requests, or requests that could conceivably fit in the first bucket but were maybe more specific and needed to be broken out on their own.

Lots of overlap here with Q4 and Q5, a mix of technical and non-technical changes requested in combination with the issues that folks are facing.

Question 8: What’s one thing you hope never changes about MetaFilter?

Primary reviewer(s): valleys

825 responses evaluated.

357 responses said something about the community, either the general concept or some specific element of it (“fun”, “intelligent”, “progressive”, “kind”)
160 responses say they hope they quality of posts (blue and green) remains high
185 responses say they did not want the format/presentation of the site to change
185 responses say they wanted at least the current level of moderation to stay, and potentially increase

This tracks with Q3 and Q6, about what the strengths are and what the future of the site should look like.

Question 9: What is your current membership status?

Primary reviewer(s): valleys

935 responses evaluated.

858 responses indicated at least one active account.
54 responses indicated a buttoned or deleted account.
Remainder never had an account, or are experiencing an issue, and three responders had been banned.

This primarily gives context for the survey about who was responding. On this pass, we were not cross-checking this question with any of the other questions; we evaluated each separately on its own, so as to not be biased. Continuing analysis of the survey will likely dig into this more so we can correlate specific experiences/responses with account status.

Question 10: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Primary reviewer(s): valleys

550 responses evaluated.

This was a completely open-ended question and we’re still reviewing this one for nuance and specifics. There were a lot of thank-yous (~38%), some good-lucks (~7%), and then a whole mix of responses. Some of them personal about what the site means to them, some of them re-iterating issues brought up in previous responses. Expect more from this one in future analysis.

Question 11: Where did you see or hear about this survey? – 928 responses total

870 responses (~94%) learned about it from MetaFilter (radio button answer)
25 responses (~3%) learned about it from Social Meda (radio button answer)
Remaining responses were a mix of a specific write-in social media answer (Reddit, Twitter), one from the podcast, and the rest from other members, as well as a number of folks who specifically saw it via the Ask question/post.

Not much to say about this one, except that it highlights there are some folk who mostly see/notice things on Ask, and that in future outreach it will likely be best to make posts on each subsite in order to reach the entire member base/readership.

—--

We’d like this thread to be limited to Q&A about the survey results. We made a big push to get these results out today and are going to need a little downtime before going back for more detail, but if there’s anything specific you’d like to see, please either pop that in here, or email to metafiltertransitionteam@gmail.com. We’ll compile those and use them to direct our efforts for additional analysis.

As mentioned above, at this stage we were focused on the big trends. If you feel your view isn’t represented above, please know that we DID read it and ARE counting it; it may fall into a smaller category or trend, but it’s not less important. We’re prioritizing based on available capacity and we can’t cover everything in-depth in the first round. We’ve begun talking about doing another pass, looking at the responder (across all questions) rather than questions, and seeing what picture comes out of that.

We’ll post again within the next two weeks with the next-steps for actually forming the Steering Committee. Stay tuned!
posted by curious nu to MetaFilter-Related at 9:21 AM (172 comments total) 49 users marked this as a favorite

Thanks for doing all this work. I love this site, and seeing so many people engaged in this survey (both taking it and reviewing it) is heartening.
posted by Gorgik at 9:31 AM on July 17 [17 favorites]


Great work! Is it a concern that some latent desires did not seem to show up in the responses? For example, the summary show no signs of a widespread desire for more potato posts, yet a few weeks after the survey was taken, it became clear that this was a major priority for site users.
posted by snofoam at 10:02 AM on July 17 [49 favorites]


Thanks for this. Very interesting first pass, and excited to see what comes of the further analysis.

It looks like there is some borked html at the end of Question 3/beginning of Question 4
posted by hydropsyche at 10:16 AM on July 17


It was endlessly fascinating and wild to read through the responses, particularly for various questions. Leaving the form fields open ended was a great idea, as it really let people express themselves in anyway they saw fit.

The flip side of that was that people expressed themselves in anyway they saw fit, heh. Similar to real life, the particularly passionate responses were very memorable!

I looked most closely at question 1 and 2, which were overall wildly different in tone. Q1 was fairly upbeat about things, while Q2 was more downbeat. That was due to the nature of the questions, but hella interesting considering it was probably the same people (for most of the responses) expressing different feelings about different aspects of the site.

Endlessly fascinating!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:22 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


But there are a number of people who say they are experiencing a dwindling use of the site, for various reasons. It’s not a huge number of respondents...

By definition, people who have become less engaged with MetaFilter are less likely to have filled out the survey. The posting and commenting numbers speak for themselves.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 10:23 AM on July 17 [25 favorites]


Thanks for taking all this on . I would really appreciate for the next round an option to have the option to have our own answers sent to us via email, or at least a note that the answers won’t be sent via email so we can take screenshots or whatever, as I can’t remember most of what I said at this point.
posted by holborne at 10:54 AM on July 17 [8 favorites]


there’s a growing vocal concern about increasingly narrowing acceptable political viewpoints with very little tolerance for opposing or even adjacent views.

I've never seen any evidence of all that any such narrowing or lack of tolerance exists.

What there is a manifest lack of tolerance for here is repetition/amplification of views and opinions that are clearly grounded in bullshit talking points that half an hour's off-site research would readily reveal as having been comprehensively, repeatedly and thoroughly debunked elsewhere; and it seems to me that this is exactly as it should be. The dominant commercial Internet has devolved into a megaphone for a Gish Gallop of truthy but pernicious and oppressive common nonsense and the ongoing existence of a shrinking handful of relatively tiny online communities like MeFi where it's not encouraged is balm for the online soul.

I would therefore suggest that the best course of action for people who do feel excluded from participation on this site on the basis of their politics is to subject the reasons why they hold such opinions to honest internal scrutiny, not to crack the sads at Metafilter.
posted by flabdablet at 11:30 AM on July 17 [28 favorites]


Thank you for this extremely huge amount of work. This is far more illuminating than 100+ MeTa threads.
posted by General Malaise at 11:42 AM on July 17 [9 favorites]


It looks like there is some borked html at the end of Question 3/beginning of Question 4

Ah, yep! The less-than sign looks like it messed things up. I've send the mods a note and asked to fix and restore -- it wiped out all the Q3 commentary as well.
posted by curious nu at 11:50 AM on July 17

I've never seen any evidence of all that any such narrowing or lack of tolerance exists.
I don't know that I agree with this exactly —while MeFi is obviously intolerant of right wing bullshit, as it should be, I do think that the political viewpoints I see here are narrower than what I see in a lot of other spaces, both online and in person, in ways that I miss. I don't see many openly Marxist or anarchist talking points, for instance, and even what are to me more mild leftist perspectives are underrepresented relative to what I see elsewhere. I don't know if that's just because there just aren't many Marxists and anarchists on here, or if there are and they're just relatively quiet.

So I'd be interested in seeing what the breakdown of political opinions people feel aren't tolerated are. I'd guess it's mostly centrist to right-wing ideas, most of which I personally am happy to see gone, but I don't feel that the complaint that there is a fairly narrow political orthodoxy that is accepted on MeFi is entirely without merit.
posted by wesleyac at 12:00 PM on July 17 [56 favorites]


I don't think I've ever seen a Marxist or anarchist whine about their opinions not being "tolerated". Generally they'll respond to pushback with well-reasoned argument and, critically, with supporting links.

I have certainly seen such people complain that MeFi isn't leftist enough, but that's an entirely different complaint to one about opinions not being tolerated which is really a line I've only ever seen wheeled out by people accustomed to having their toxic, parochial, self-satisfied complacency celebrated and rewarded rather than subjected to any degree of challenge.
posted by flabdablet at 12:13 PM on July 17 [9 favorites]

I don't think I've ever seen a Marxist or anarchist whine about their opinions not being "tolerated". Generally they'll respond to pushback with well-reasoned argument and, critically, with supporting links.
Yes, either that, or they'll just leave, or stay quiet. I don't want to derail this post, so maybe a new meta is in order if people want a real discussion of this, but just a example of political opinions not being tolerated on a structural level: comments that call for or advocate violence are deleted. That already rules out talking about the logical endpoints of a lot of political philosophies.

In thinking about this, I remembered the Kissinger death tontine post, which seems to skirt right up against that rule — the person who made that post buttoned, with their last comment in one of the Ukraine threads, which got pushback from people essentially (maybe literally? I didn't read much of the context, and I don't think I followed the thread at the time) calling them a tankie. They didn't complain about their opinion not being tolerated, it seems, they just got tired of arguing and left.

I didn't have that example off-hand — I literally just remembered the Kissinger thread as something I was surprised was allowed to stay up, and happened to see that the person who posted it buttoned, and looked at their post history to try to figure out why. (Does MeFi collect data on buttoning reasons? That would be pretty interesting)
posted by wesleyac at 12:36 PM on July 17 [14 favorites]


flabdablet, your comments are a perfect example of exactly the attitude that people are complaining about. You don't even know what the political views in question are. But you're dead certain that they're unacceptable, and that the people who hold them are vile.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 1:01 PM on July 17 [191 favorites]


By definition, people who have become less engaged with MetaFilter are less likely to have filled out the survey. The posting and commenting numbers speak for themselves.

Interestingly enough, roughly 20 or so respondents were people who noted that they'd buttoned (we as reviewers could not see any identifying information). And another 4-5 were people who hadn't yet created an account.

I was more than a little surprised to see that many responses from people who don't currently have an account. It's clear that metafilter meant/means something to them and I was touched they took the time to respond.
posted by mochapickle at 1:15 PM on July 17 [30 favorites]


Thank you for posting the analysis, and thanks to the transition team for all the time and energy you have spent going through the survey answers.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:25 PM on July 17 [8 favorites]


I've started an issues document for the survey to track things like this for the next pass(es) we do. I made an item about looking more at who is reporting feeling shut down/shut out of conversation so we can have a more nuanced conversation about it.
posted by curious nu at 2:02 PM on July 17 [8 favorites]


Also, mod coverage is a little lighter today, so I'm pasting in what should be going with Question 3 here:

-----
Other responses (less than 100 each) made some mention of the site’s longevity/history or the fact that many members have been here for a long time; that the size and pace of the site makes it feel manageable to keep up with; that AskMetaFilter is a unique and special place on the internet; and that the fee seems to keep the worst of the trolls out.

The above are the kind of general broad tags, and a later follow-up will break that out a little more. We asked for someone’s top three, so some of those counts might go up if we re-framed this as a “select all that apply”-type question (and that might be a good future question for the SC). But it gives a general picture of what’s most-valued at MetaFilter.

The main takeaway is that people REALLY value the moderation at the site (there were many responses that were some variation of “moderator” or “moderation” three times in a row). Going forward, the SC should be looking to support the site moderation and ensure that it can continue at least at its current level.
posted by curious nu at 2:16 PM on July 17 [6 favorites]


Just commenting to co-sign that the whole "If you have opinions you don't voice here, you're clearly the worst sort of person" self-righteousness is exactly why this site is often unpleasant to use. It's not welcoming or particularly interesting to read.
posted by sagc at 2:23 PM on July 17 [84 favorites]


I've never seen any evidence of all that any such narrowing or lack of tolerance exists.

It's pretty amazing when the problem we're talking about parades itself out on stage, drops trou, and shows off its big moony butt to everyone.

I don't think I've ever seen a Marxist or anarchist whine about their opinions not being "tolerated".

Sure, that's because those types love to argue about their fringe political theories in public. Same with the Ancap Libertarians. Most of us don't want to have a constant fight about our ordinary viewpoints every time we express ourselves on a small social website.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 2:36 PM on July 17 [33 favorites]


Can I talk to someone on the team for now they managed to do tagging so efficiently? I'm trying to do my own qualitative coding/tagging rn with a team and I'm in awe of how y'all did it so quickly and thoroughly and I would love to learn!
posted by yueliang at 2:58 PM on July 17 [3 favorites]


I don't know if this is helpful but I'm back on the site after many years (I used to be a very active member on a different account but left about a decade ago). Politically, MeFi feels pretty trapped in a particular era—the mid-Bush to mid-Obama period where some version of DailyKos liberalism represented the most progressive viewpoint you were likely to encounter in real life. That type of liberalism was heavily invested in being the voice of the Democrat base—a vision of the political sphere as a morality play in which evil, conniving Republicans are opposed by basically good but always flatfooted and ineffectual Democrats, and while you could criticize the latter your fundamental duty was to stay loyal to the party no matter what. This perspective obviously isn't totally wrong but it's also intensely hostile to any attempt to introduce more depth, complexity, and structural critique into the picture (as a leftist, I notice this whenever Obama-type liberals receive criticism from the left, but I imagine people further right than me notice other examples). It's this type of thing that can make the site pretty off-putting to people who don't share those types of views. I've looked at profiles of prominent users I used to like on here whose accounts are now disabled and their last few interactions on the site seem generally to consist of them butting up against this viewpoint, being attacked, and then ultimately becoming frustrated and leaving.
posted by derrinyet at 3:21 PM on July 17 [38 favorites]


I have certainly seen such people complain that MeFi isn't leftist enough, but that's an entirely different complaint to one about opinions not being tolerated which is really a line I've only ever seen...

With kindness, the responses were talking about tolerance generally, as I understand it. And I know we can talk a lot about how much we have to tolerate intolerance (i.e. it's really different if someone is asking you to tolerate fascists than asking you to tolerate Cory Doctorow) but MeFi does have trouble with tolerance. It's been described here sometimes as a circular firing squad with people who mostly agree on most things getting into arguments about minutia.

flabdablet, you've been here a long time and are clearly an old school MeFite who I am presuming mostly likes it here and I'm only talking about you directly because you've commented twice already. Yet I'm not sure if you understand just how strident your comments--even helpful ones in AskMe about tech support stuff--can sometimes come across. Someone experiencing data loss gets a lecture about best practices "for next time" in addition to an answer, for example. And I think that is the kind of thing people are talking about. Everyone's got topics for which they have more of an irritable edge, say. I'm sure I do. We're a prickly group, often. But we're also sometimes an apprehensive bunch and when you're already bummed about a topic (ranging from sick pets to the Ukraine to coming out to your parents) getting someone being a little aggressive, or unkind, or sanctimonious or prescriptive (I sometimes see the AskMe answers that start with "please please please I am begging you [do this thing]) can really hit someone the wrong way.

I am one of the anarchists who doesn't talk too much about anarchism here, and a Jew who stays the hell out of most of the MeFi posts that are Judaism-adjacent. wesleyac, we do keep track of the reasons people leave though they're not aggregated anywhere I assume they could be.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:42 PM on July 17 [117 favorites]


Thanks so much to the team for doing this work, it's much appreciated.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:42 PM on July 17 [19 favorites]


I would also maybe say it's not so much a matter of being "tolerated" (you might get some passive aggressive comments if you have a divergent opinion but the mods are pretty good at keeping outright aggression in check). It's more that the site has a culture, like all communities do. On Twitter you have a bunch of different communities each with their own version of groupthink and people make very successful careers navigating precisely how to say something that will offend one community but get support from another. Here, because of the limited size of the userbase and the lack of options for creating private subgroups (which is not a problem, to be clear), that doesn't happen, and commenters have no choice but to either appeal to what the mainstream consensus is or to risk being piled on, which over time creates a chilling effect. I'm not sure there's anything to be done about that really.
posted by derrinyet at 3:45 PM on July 17 [10 favorites]


Politically, MeFi feels pretty trapped in a particular era—the mid-Bush to mid-Obama period where some version of DailyKos liberalism represented the most progressive viewpoint you were likely to encounter in real life.

The leftists on MetaFilter always complain that the site is full of "Vote Blue No Matter Who", party-line centrist Democrats, who think that NPR tote bags and sassy Nancy Pelosi GIFs are going to save us from fascism.

The liberals on MetaFilter always complain that the site is full of leftists, who expect everyone to be fully up-to-date on Marxist theory and the latest Extremely Online drama .

I've said this before, but: the notion that MetaFilter is a centrist-liberal echo chamber is pretty strange to me. There are plenty of leftists and socialists here, and they aren't shy about participating.

Maybe both sides could stand to be more self-reflective, and to extend more grace to other users?

As for the idea that these complaints are coming from right-wingers who are upset that they can't openly advocate for Trumpism or whatever: you're joking, right? Those MeFites do not exist. There's nothing attractive here for people like that – and on the rare occasions that someone has shown up and started talking nonsense, the mods have dealt with them pretty quickly.

If such users did exist, then I find it hard to believe they would choose to make it known via this survey – and only via this survey.

In my opinion, the problem isn't even that MeFi is intolerant of any specific political stance.

It's about the fact that some users are very ready – eager, even – to conclude that other MeFites are The Enemy.

We've seen it in this very thread. Dozens of MeFites have said "I feel like there's a toxic dynamic around political discussions on MeFi" – and other users have immediately leapt to the conclusion "oh, clearly the people making this complaint are just MAGAs who resent the fact that they can't get away with spewing hate speech".

That, right there, is the problem. Some users seem to believe that politics is about berating The Enemy – and when no enemy is around, they'll just appoint one, for the sake of having someone to berate. I've been repeatedly cast in that role on MetaFilter – and I'm sure that many others reading have, as well.

It doesn't seem to matter whether the person being piled upon has actually said anything objectionable. Sometimes, it doesn't seem to matter that they've specifically argued the opposite of whatever horrible position they're being accused of advocating.

That, for me, is the toxic dynamic that I'd like to see addressed.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:19 PM on July 17 [125 favorites]


"to either appeal to what the mainstream consensus is or to risk being piled on, which over time creates a chilling effect."

That depends on what the overall purpose of the site is, which is really a question for Jessamyn and the mods. It's also unclear to me what the moderators and Jessamyn think of pile-ons, as there seems to be no one way to moderate them, and sometimes they're not moderated at all.

If one of the goals of the site is the civil exchange of ideas then that value needs to be stressed with continuous reminders to folks to reason their way through a debate, rather than engage in a take-down. If it's not one of the goals, however, then I never understood the purpose of the site.
posted by Violet Blue at 4:30 PM on July 17 [6 favorites]


I think a pile-on can often consist of a series of very polite, well-reasoned comments that feel alienating because of how they disproportionately favor one side of a disagreement. Most of the people involved might not agree that they are piling on, just that they happened to take exception to the same thing someone else did.

As far the idea that there are plenty of leftists and socialists here and they aren't shy about participating, I guess I don't see it. Certainly this place is to the right of other communities I've been part of in the intervening years, partly I imagine because the userbase here is older.
posted by derrinyet at 4:39 PM on July 17 [5 favorites]


We’d like this thread to be limited to Q&A about the survey results.

Please - this survey was about a lot of things. Let's steer it back to what the thread comments should be about at this early stage. Thank you!
posted by tiny frying pan at 4:41 PM on July 17 [17 favorites]


Did not many respondents say they liked that membership costs something? I’m surprised. To me that’s essential to what works well here. Not looking to argue, just didn’t expect to be alone. :)
posted by michaelh at 4:46 PM on July 17 [3 favorites]


Can I talk to someone on the team for now they managed to do tagging so efficiently? I'm trying to do my own qualitative coding/tagging rn with a team and I'm in awe of how y'all did it so quickly and thoroughly and I would love to learn!

Speaking as a non-efficient tagger on the team, that's a great question! I think bleep, valleys, and curious nu were notable for whipping through the tags, but don't quote me on those being the only people that were efficient with the tagging. I was bogged down in Q1 and a bit of Q2 which have a wider range of responses compared to other questions (I think!), requiring more thought to figure out how to apply the tags.

Since Q2 had so many nuances, I was keeping tracking in a separate document of what tags had been used, adding tags mochapicke had created on their pass through, and adding additional ones. Because of the nuance, I started breaking things out based on 'actions', for lack of a better term. For example, I'd break things out based on what people said about about their commenting participation, and here's that unrefined list:
comment a lot
commenting-doesn't
commenting is intimidating
comments-never
commenting-hesitant
commenting-happy to do so
commenting infrequently
comments-occasionally
commenting-sometimes
comments-rarely
commenting only
commenting-feels uncomfortable
comments getting worse
Yes, that list can be whittled down, refined, and reworded, was just going through and seeing what people wrote and tagging that before refining further. We could easily spend more time refining tags (and will throughout all the questions), but overall we decided to stick to the original deadline to share the general gist of the results.

There's a lot of little things similar to the above example, like say lurking. Some people described it as such, while other said they were lurkers and still others added more nuanced by saying "they mostly lurk" or are "mostly lurkers" or they said "sometimes they participate on a specific sub-site", but either "lurk", "mostly lurk" on other sub-sites.

And don't get me started on the sub-sites, as a fair number of people may say "Metafilter" but mean they mostly hangout on "AskMetafilter". Parsing these nuances definitely required a bit more brainpower.

This wasn't a chore per se, just more of a "Wow, there's a lot of ways people interact and think about the site," so it takes time and thought to process.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:38 PM on July 17 [8 favorites]


Did not many respondents say they liked that membership costs something? I’m surprised. To me that’s essential to what works well here. Not looking to argue, just didn’t expect to be alone. :)

Not alone at all! We had 69 responses in Q3 (7.6%) specifically mention the fee, and I know I saw mention of it in some other questions. I think it'd be interesting to rerun Q3 in some future survey as either a "check all that apply" or "rank these options" and see what came out of it, but I also liked that we had it freeform and that meant that we'd capture what came first-and-foremost to mind, rather than setting up any kind of bias or expectations. It'd also be interesting to see how the fee ranks correlated to how long someone has been a member (which we didn't ask this time), as well as if the fee was a deterrent to someone signing up.

Can I talk to someone on the team for now they managed to do tagging so efficiently? I'm trying to do my own qualitative coding/tagging rn with a team and I'm in awe of how y'all did it so quickly and thoroughly and I would love to learn!

Brandon jumped in while I was writing this, so I'll add: many hands make light work! I'm not sure we did it as efficiently as possible, honestly, and there are definitely things I'd think about setting up differently on a future survey. Really, the main goal for this stage was: "What does the SC need to know to get things started?" We've got some more months before we've promised to wipe the data so I'm expecting more refinement over time, based on questions in MetaTalk and once the SC gets properly going. Each question was primarily tackled by different people so the approach is a little different for each one, which I think is both a strength and a weakness. Strength in that each question gets evaluated on its own merits, weakness in that we lack a bit of a whole-picture synthesis. Like, I think we were generally tagging based on what the question was asking, but you could absolutely go through and tag about what the response is saying, and I think some of the team was doing that, and getting into some deeper things. For instance, in addition to a "moderation" tag in Q3 responses, most of those responses could also use tags of "direct moderation of conversation" or "no spam" or "no trolls" and those would all paint slightly different pictures about what those users are valuing. But for the SC, knowing that "moderation = really important" was the big thing, so that's how I was doing that pass for that question.

One thing I'm really hoping comes out of this MetaTalk are specific queries that members have, that either we hadn't considered or maybe didn't have enough time for initially. There are already a couple of questions I want to look back over and go, "Okay, but what if we're evaluating for this..." and see what comes out. Plus, as mentioned in the main post, looking back at responders across each question.

I'm out for the day but will periodically be revisiting the post this week and taking notes. If there are specific results you'd like to discuss I think those may be better for a separate MetaTalk and I personally probably won't be able to engage much with that here, but I'm very happy to dig back into data and try and answer specific questions if possible (or say we didn't track that thing specifically but we'll add it to the list for the next pass).
posted by curious nu at 6:05 PM on July 17 [14 favorites]


Oh, it should definitely be noted that curious nu has been the primary person moving us along and reminding us of deadlines and overall goals. It's been to the point where several of us have said "Hey, stop working so hard on this" but they kept it going and going very well, so they definitely deserves thanks for that!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:13 PM on July 17 [14 favorites]


escape from the potato planet, I didn't want to overlook your concern about the response rate from people who aren't participating as often. It's a great question.

We did have responses (I counted maybe 60ish in one of my passes for Q2 and I didn't see every response) from people who straight-out said, hey, I'm participating less here lately. About half of those cited life changes like spending more time with family or moving to a job where they couldn't be online as often. The other half cited a variety of reasons, from simply spending less time online to spending their time elsewhere online to specifically withdrawing from certain subsites or topics here on metafilter (often with significant detail on why). Having this population represented to some degree should be really helpful in gaining a better understanding of participation trends and why people stay and go.

Because a lot of the questions were open ended, not everyone specifically opted to mention their participation level. Brandon's comment above details how we can continue to more granularly review the responses that do volunteer that information.
posted by mochapickle at 6:14 PM on July 17 [5 favorites]


Thank you!
posted by escape from the potato planet at 6:16 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


Yeah, here's the current list of participation tags for Q2, broken out so we can get some of the nuance that people are communicating :
participates actively
participation-afraid to
participation-AskMe only
participates carefully
participation-enjoys
participation-feels fine about level of
participating is intimidating
participates less due to unpleasant experience
participates less
participates little
participation-no longer
participation-not eager to do
participates on AskMe
participation-on break
participates occasionally
participates only when confident of answer or comment
participates rarely
particiaption-trying to improve
participates when it feels right
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:20 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Mark me down as another person who wishes they’d taken screenshots or been sent a copy of their answers because I recall saying some thoughtful stuff but now only remember the basic gist.

I think I said something about the different values and cultures of the subsites and how that can be really confusing and jarring to people venturing into a new one. For me, that’s one of the biggest barriers to getting friends to stick around mefi long enough to participate. They really feel like different sites and I don’t dislike that but also I think it’s a higher level of difficulty than you’d expect from a site with such consistent visual design and articulate user base. Since the other big concern I recall having (and still do have) is attracting more diverse marginalized users, these extra sets of unwritten rules stick out to me as challenges that need to be addressed.

It’s interesting to me that these things do appear in the results summary above, but are not quite as prevalent as I feel they ought to be. Of course I don’t expect everyone to think like me but it’s still a bit of a surprise. I feel like as the answers are looked over again so they are taken into context with the other responses by the same participants that different patterns will emerge than what is displayed here. Comparing the two will be really valuable.
posted by Mizu at 6:44 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


By definition, people who have become less engaged with MetaFilter are less likely to have filled out the survey. The posting and commenting numbers speak for themselves.

This may not be relevant, but FWIW I didn't fill it out. I don't know if I'd consider myself currently "less engaged." I go through periods where I use mefi a lot (mostly reading, some answering Asks, very rarely commenting on The Blue), and periods where I don't use it at all for months at a time. I've even had breaks longer than a year. I take breaks for one of two reasons: either I need to be more productive in work/life and I find that I'm just "wasting" too much time here (it can be addictive in that way), or something about the site dynamic at that particular point in time is just not making me feel good, and I need some time away from it.

But I'm here now, so why didn't I fill out the survey? I did click on it, but I found it really daunting to have open-ended questions. If I'm going to spend the time to complete something like that, I want to be thoughtful and provide what I think is substantive and useful feedback. And it just felt like a lot of energy for what, quite frankly, doesn't feel like "my" community. Yeah, I've been here on and off for well over ten years, but mefi has always to me felt like it "belongs" to the people who post and comment heavily on The Blue. As someone who mostly participates in Ask, and intermittently reads the other sites, I feel like a tourist. I don't feel like I really have standing to ask for changes.

That said, reading the summaries of responses, people seem to have said most of the things I would have anyway. So while my voice was not literally heard, I wouldn't say that there's something major I would have said that didn't come up.
posted by primethyme at 6:47 PM on July 17 [21 favorites]


Perhaps it doesn't count as Q&A, but thanks to all who worked on this, and thanks for the post.
posted by eotvos at 7:45 PM on July 17 [3 favorites]


So, can we get crosstabs at some point?

E.g. I would love to see the breakdown of “negativity” answers in Q4 by site usage and site history (how long they have had an account). (I can’t remember how much demographic info we took though.)
posted by dw at 8:08 PM on July 17


The approach to tagging answer content that Brandon Blatcher has laid out is very good and could facilitate further analyses, if that's desirable. For example, it might be interesting to know whether peoples' answers "cluster" in certain ways. For example, there may be a subset of people who are basically happy with how things are going but tend to agree with each other on a few specific concerns, versus another subset of people who have serious concerns about the site but tend to agree with each other that certain things are working well. The tagging approach makes it relatively straightforward to run analyses that look for clusters. A relatively simple approach, for example, is called "principle components analysis," which identifies the axes along which people's answers vary the most. (There are other, more sophisticated such analyses, but PCA is a good starting point.) It's possible that such an analysis could be helpful in identifying specific subgroups of the user base who have specific desires, concerns, or unmet needs. I'm open to discussing this further if people think it's worth pursuing for this survey.
posted by biogeo at 9:07 PM on July 17


(On reread of what I just wrote: I'm sorry for reusing the phrase "for example" so many times, it now makes me cringe.)
posted by biogeo at 9:09 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


I would love to see the breakdown of “negativity” answers in Q4 by site usage and site history (how long they have had an account). (I can’t remember how much demographic info we took though.)

Just a note that we took virtually zero demographic info, so we have no way of checking or verifying a respondent's site usage or how long they've had an account.

In fact, there were a few instances where a respondent identified themselves by a specific user name and we realized we had no way to verify that information. The survey had been purposefully set up to collect virtually no data, to encourage folks to be very open in their answers, and to allay any concerns about privacy.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:03 PM on July 17 [3 favorites]


[Added the "Other responses" section to Question 3]
posted by taz (staff) at 10:57 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


Thanks, transition team! Completing the survey made me think about MetaFilter in ways I hadn’t before. Your attention to the survey is heartwarming. I appreciate your work and am interested in the results.
posted by saeva indignatio at 12:11 AM on July 18 [2 favorites]


These are some really interesting insights, thank you all for your work on this!
posted by ellieBOA at 1:39 AM on July 18


As for the idea that these complaints are coming from right-wingers who are upset that they can't openly advocate for Trumpism or whatever: you're joking, right? Those MeFites do not exist. There's nothing attractive here for people like that – and on the rare occasions that someone has shown up and started talking nonsense, the mods have dealt with them pretty quickly.

I think it's worth noting the context that there is actually a pretty extensive history of exactly that - people with odious bigoted, Trumpist, or -phobic views using precisely that "silenced all my life" script updated a bit for mefi sensibilities, and it looks like pretty much what you're suggesting doesn't exist. And maybe it doesn't, but it sure did, and for some of us, that history is still pretty recent.
posted by Dysk at 2:06 AM on July 18 [29 favorites]


Nothing to add except many thanks to the hard-working team of folks who worked on creating and compiling the survey and its results. Y'all rock!
posted by Bella Donna at 3:15 AM on July 18 [3 favorites]


Nothing to add except many thanks to the hard-working team of folks who worked on creating and compiling the survey and its results. Y'all rock!

Ditto.
posted by kingless at 3:34 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


I think the desire for more tolerance and the desire for more younger members are also quite intertwined.

I started reading Metafilter when I was still a teenager, and I think I did a lot of good growing up here. Maybe Metafilter's too old fashioned for kids these days, but I'd like to think that it could still be a place for young, thoughtful weirdos. We'd have to get to a point though where an incisive 40+ year old isn't going to lay into a well-intentioned, but ignorant 20 year old. I think this will require a lot more benefit-of-the-doubt-giving and good-faith-reading than is sometimes the norm here.
posted by Alex404 at 3:36 AM on July 18 [32 favorites]


This is from a bit upthread, but:

the mods are pretty good at keeping outright aggression in check

I...don't entirely agree?

With love and respect to our mods (who do a great job in many ways, and put up with raft of shit that we don't even see), there's been a consistent pattern of allowing certain kinds of aggression to stand. I would even say that MeFi's moderation has (unintentionally) enabled and encouraged some of the toxic dynamics that we now see.

I think this accommodation comes from a good place – the desire to give fair hearing to minority viewpoints, and particularly to complaints that the site's culture is causing harm to one group or another. I hope this goes without saying, but that's a good thing, and I applaud it.

But this has, unfortunately, provided a space for bad-faith actors. The message that many MeFites seem to have absorbed – and I'm talking about MeFi in general here – is "oh, I get to demand that this thread must work exactly the way I want it to". So every thread devolves into an argument between competing demands.

(The early Ukraine megathreads are a good example. We can't talk about this, because Member A doesn't like it! But Member B says that it actually helps them to cope with the situation, so banning it from the thread would be an affront to them! And now that the discussion has become "what's permissible to discuss in this thread?", Member C has realized that they have opinions, too! And so on.)

It's a thorny problem to solve: how do you deal with the people who are just taking advantage of MeFi's willingness to give a sympathetic audience to grievances, without also shutting out the voices that deserve to be heard? I honestly don't know, and I don't envy the mods here.

But, in my opinion, part of the solution has to come from the users themselves. MeFi culture needs to come around to the idea that not every comment, nor every thread, can center every user's personal concerns.

There are going to be people who want to talk about different aspects of an issue than you do – even aspects that might cause you anxiety to consider.

There are going to be people who share your general political goals, but who disagree about tactics.

There are going to be people who are honestly new to a subject or idea, and who aren't as familiar with the wonkish minutiae as you might like them to be. They don't deserve to be written off as trolls.

There are going to be people who have different emotional reactions to things than you do. It doesn't mean that they're kitten-murdering goblins.

There are going to be conversations that don't go in the direction you'd like them to. That's how conversations work.

There are going to be times when you make a brilliant and cogently argued point – and others simply don't agree. You don't have to keep restating the point, more loudly and pointedly each time, until others submit.

If anyone reading this is inclined to conclude that I'm some kind of Ben-Shapiro-retweeting, anti-woke crusader: I am not. Rather the opposite, actually. I'm not complaining about social justice or progressive politics. I'm unreservedly for such things, which is why they aren't mentioned in any of the specific items I've listed above.

What I'm complaining about is users who abuse MeFi's (otherwise fine and noble) willingness to give an audience to callouts, as a way to justify unpleasant and selfish behavior.

I'd like to believe that we can be an inclusive and thoughtful community, and expect civility from our members.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:55 AM on July 18 [84 favorites]


It doesn't seem to matter whether the person being piled upon has actually said anything objectionable. Sometimes, it doesn't seem to matter that they've specifically argued the opposite of whatever horrible position they're being accused of advocating.

That, for me, is the toxic dynamic that I'd like to see addressed.


Charitable readings begin at home.
posted by flabdablet at 5:09 AM on July 18 [3 favorites]


I've probably been dominating and derailing the thread. I apologize for that. I'll save my thoughts for a more appropriate time. Cheers to everyone involved in conducting and processing the survey – I think it's a valuable thing.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 5:19 AM on July 18 [2 favorites]


flabdablet, can you explain that a bit more? Do people need to be more charitable to people accusing them of things they don't think they've done?
posted by sagc at 5:20 AM on July 18 [4 favorites]


I've been here a long time but I have no idea what "FPP" is, which is mentioned three times. I assume it's something to do with the blue (which I don't read)? Couldn't see it in the FAQ. (Thanks in advance)
posted by fabius at 5:29 AM on July 18 [2 favorites]


fabius: an FPP is a "front page post." On the blue, one person makes the FPP (a link or several links to something interesting, plus context, typically) and other people add comments - just like on the green where one person asks the question and other people add answers.
posted by Jeanne at 5:32 AM on July 18 [3 favorites]


flabdablet, can you explain that a bit more? Do people need to be more charitable to people accusing them of things they don't think they've done?

Hey, would it possible to take this discussion to another MeTa or email? A lot of folks volunteered their time to get these results out to the community and it would be great if people could focus on that.

Thanks for the consideration!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:42 AM on July 18 [41 favorites]


Hey, I just wanted to pop in and say thank you to Jessamyn, the mod team, and everyone on the SC for putting together and evaluating this survey project. I recognize how labor-intensive this is - which is why I am all the more appreciative of the work you are doing to listen to the community, as well as analyze and organize the responses based on concerns/tags. It's great to see so much effort being put into transparency (about both the survey responses as well as the evaluation process, including who is evaluating and how responses are tagged). It makes me feel more optimistic about Metafilter's future. Based on the survey responses, there's obviously a lot of problems that still need to be addressed, but it's validating to hear the mods/SC acknowledge what some of those problems are. Anyway, thank you again for all of your hard work. Looking forward to your next update.
posted by nightrecordings at 6:54 AM on July 18 [9 favorites]


and everyone on the SC

Hey, minor clarification point! There is no Steering Committee at the moment, just a Transition Team (TT). Those people on the TT put together the user survey to help determine what the community needs and wants, to help determine the basic goals and direction of the eventual SC. Jessamyn and Loup have been consulted and will continue to be on what they think the SC's responsibilities should be.

This is all part of the goal of Metafilter being more community driven, which means accepting more direction from the members themselves (as a whole).
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:02 AM on July 18 [5 favorites]


Thank you to everyone who worked on this, it is interesting and useful.
posted by rpfields at 7:15 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


I didn't fill out the survey, because a lot of my thoughts didn't make a lot of sense to me. For example, I tend to agree with the sentiment that sometimes Metafilter just seems like arguing for the sake of arguing. But also, sometimes I like that! Like, it's fun to watch intelligent people going back and forth. That's why I read so many MetaTalk threads. But then sometimes I don't like it. It gets tiring fairly quickly, especially when things spill over and get a bit personal, which happens sometimes.* A lot of my would-be answers were like that, which is to say that I don't think they would've been particularly useful to a Transition Team or Steering Committee trying to set a course forward.

* There was an actual question on Ask about this the other day: What ... things ... have a characteristic that is both its best quality and one of its worst qualities?
posted by kevinbelt at 7:18 AM on July 18 [7 favorites]


I helped with a small bit of the analysis but had to dial it back at the worst time. Everyone that jumped in and plowed through was amazing and just echoing that curious nu really drove a lot of the process and Brandon is downplaying his contribution as well.

My comment would be that my own opinion is this survey was actually overall pretty positive about the site. I tagged some of question 4 and it struck me how much consensus there was on the idea that people want to be able to contribute positively to conversation on the site, and what stops them is feeling that the impact of contributing -- either on themselves, or inadvertently on someone else -- would not be positive.

Maybe it's because I've been in much more toxic online environments in the past but I found that really touching.

I think we should focus on understanding these results before diagnosing (especially before trying to lay blame) or trying to fix things. But I feel like that desire and people's willingness to continue to engage really is good news.
posted by warriorqueen at 7:32 AM on July 18 [17 favorites]


This is Just to Say

I have read
these results
you shared
with tremendous interest

and ever so
dearly
appreciate the hivemind
intelligence

Especially because of the
global shitshow and
overall snarling behavior
I am sick of seeing everywhere.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 8:44 AM on July 18 [26 favorites]


Re political expression on Metafilter: the truly bad old days for left folks on this site was around 2015/2016 (imo). This was when I buttoned on a previous, long-time account because mods were consistently aggressive in shutting down people with values like mine (and, via heavy comment deletion, leaving a very distorted record of discussion).

Mod-wise, things have improved a lot since then. The prevailing political sentiment here is still pretty far from mine, but, it's also not my birthright to show up into any space and find people who are largely simpatico in that way. As someone mentioned above, in a lot of ways Mefi is now the outlier and I can go almost anywhere else to interact with people politically without all-in Democratic Party electoralism dominating the conversation. Anyway, my point is, recently I've been able to assume that when I (fairly infrequently) post about politics, my good-faith comments will not trigger some sort of antagonistic mod action-- and for that I've been appreciative.
posted by dusty potato at 9:16 AM on July 18 [9 favorites]


Metafilter: asking you to tolerate Cory Doctorow
posted by Rumple at 9:36 AM on July 18 [12 favorites]


2004-enspousination-era person here; I made a new account just to say that I value MetaFilter quite a lot and/but I've come to realize that the internet in general is healthier for me as a read-only experience.

* waves awkwardly *

Sincere thanks to the mods, Jessamyn, and the transition team on everything you are doing. It's good to see.
posted by german_bight at 9:45 AM on July 18 [9 favorites]


Metafilter: asking you to tolerate Cory Doctorow

Flagged for offensive content. :7)

--
Thanks again to the folks who digested these responses and found some patterns among our opinions: I know my responses weren't especially cogent because I felt like once I started the form I had to push on through, and I got a little flustered at the open-ended nature of the questions. But it looks like you have distilled some useful trends, so that's awesome.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:48 AM on July 18 [5 favorites]


Thanks so very much to everyone who did work on the survey and who gave their time to analyze results. You all are heroes and have done something really meaningful to make this place better!
posted by Going To Maine at 9:55 AM on July 18 [2 favorites]


I agree with pretty much everything escape from the potato planet has said. My single biggest issue with Metafilter is how rapidly it devolves (sometimes with the active assistance of the mods) to a Most Uncharitable Interpretation contest.

I rarely disagree with the social/political consensus here, but damn if I don't spend an unbelievable amount of time dissecting nearly every word of many of my posts to excise even the smallest hooks for bad faith interpretation. And on the times that I let my guard down, there's very often someone here who will gladly hand me my own ass for the oversight.

One thing I've learned on Metafilter: never let your guard down. There are plenty of angry people with thirsty daggers looking for someone to puncture.
posted by tclark at 10:37 AM on July 18 [61 favorites]


There are going to be people who share your general political goals, but who disagree about tactics.

my not entirely inexperienced take on this is that one's political goals are indivisible from one's tactics*. If you're willing to utilize force-ridicule-violence to achieve your ends, don't be surprised that things end up forceful, ridiculous, violent.

So I guess I'm arguing that one way to make this place more pleasant, less threatening, more tolerant for everybody is to take an overall dim view of the notion that high minded ends will somehow justify unpleasantness, intolerance etc. In other words -- let's endeavour to be intolerant of assholism, regardless of what wing or faction or ideology it's claiming to serve.

* ends do sometimes seem to justify means in situations of war, but who the hell wants this place to be a war zone?
posted by philip-random at 10:47 AM on July 18 [6 favorites]


Can we please save thoughts on Metafilter or the direction of Metafilter in general for another thread? This space is for questions about the survey results. Thanks!
posted by tiny frying pan at 10:53 AM on July 18 [18 favorites]


Re political expression on Metafilter: the truly bad old days for left folks on this site was around 2015/2016 (imo). This was when I buttoned on a previous, long-time account because mods were consistently aggressive in shutting down people with values like mine (and, via heavy comment deletion, leaving a very distorted record of discussion).

Yes, this squares with my experience too, though I would say those bad old days extended through the 2020 primaries. I felt that moderation was heavily biased against left wing commenters in the old "political megathreads" -- If a thread received two identically strident and angry comments, one from a mainstream liberal standpoint and one from a radical leftist standpoint, the leftist one was much more likely to be deleted. I even saw leftist users banned entirely or banned specifically from discussing politics on the site, because they were considered too combative... When they were no more combative than the more centrist users they'd been arguing with. There were also a number of times where non-strident, totally polite, good-faith and high-effort leftist comments were deleted without reason given. It's pretty demoralizing to spend a half hour composing your high-effort anarchist take on an issue in the news and then have it deleted without explanation 30 seconds later.

There's also the issue of certain areas of discussion being banned in a way that favors the liberal viewpoint -- the ban on "re-litigating the 2016 primaries", for example. That was a huge inflection point for USian politics, and banning people from bringing it up favors the victors from that year: centrist liberals and the right.

All that being said, I do think things have calmed down on this front a great deal in the past couple of years. I think the moderation team has been less biased against leftist users lately. My hope is that this remains the case next time a Democratic primary rolls around.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 1:19 PM on July 18 [5 favorites]


Hi!

We’d like this thread to be limited to Q&A about the survey results.

We’d like this thread to be limited to Q&A about the survey results.

We’d like this thread to be limited to Q&A about the survey results.

We’d like this thread to be limited to Q&A about the survey results.

We’d like this thread to be limited to Q&A about the survey results.

We’d like this thread to be limited to Q&A about the survey results.

Thanks!

posted by mochapickle at 1:31 PM on July 18 [23 favorites]


Sorry, just hadn't really had a chance to talk about this anywhere on the site before and finally saw that the discussion was happening. I'd always assumed that a MetaTalk thread on the subject would not be allowed to be posted. I'll drop it now.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 1:33 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


I promise my shoutyness wasn't specifically directed at you. :)

There will be more space for this discussion, especially after the team has some time to provide a more detailed analysis for the community to work from. Stay tuned, okay?
posted by mochapickle at 1:53 PM on July 18 [4 favorites]


From memory of having filled the survey out there’s no geographic breakdown for the responses (this isn’t a question, only an observation about limits).

I’ve often wondered about how strongly the focus on the politics of the US figures in negativity/positivity for people outside that country. That’s also not a criticism; US politics leads the world for both good and bad, and hardly just on this website!

And conversely, thinking of specific geography effects annoying people, how badly the Australian Drinking Hours problem affects moderators…
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 3:12 PM on July 18 [7 favorites]


Thank you all the hard workers. Thank you mods. Thank you collators. Thank you most who tried to stay on topic ;-)
posted by sammyo at 3:46 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


Thanks for stepping up and Doing The Work, Transition Team!
posted by thoroughburro at 4:17 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


356 responses said they had no technical challenges.

Nearly half of respondents don't see technical challenges? I've been vocal about this in the past but just because a 1960 Ford technically gets you from point A to point B doesn't mean a new car with digital dash, lane assist, etc. isn't better. I think a lot of the lack of new voices is how hostile the site is to new users. I realize Metafilter has a very limited budget and its spent largely on moderating which I'm not criticizing but the web has fundamentally changed in the last 20 years. I don't mean a "facelift" but I wonder how many other survey comments could be largely fixed if there were new ways to engage with the site. I'm not a technocrat but I feel as if there's a consistent feeling that the vintage feel of the site is what makes it great.
posted by geoff. at 4:41 PM on July 18 [4 favorites]


I don’t think that’s unusual. The site’s built on old infrastructure, but that doesn’t have much of an effect on the actual user experience. It’s been years since I’ve gone through the signup process so I can’t speak to that, but most site functions - logging in, reading, commenting, favoriting, posting, etc - just work. I think some of the pony requests are good ideas, but their absence doesn’t prevent me from engaging with the site in any way. It does what I expect it to do.
posted by kevinbelt at 4:52 PM on July 18 [25 favorites]


I'm primarily a lurker here, so please excuse me if I'm out of line, but I agree with kevinbelt above. I don't really know how the site could be "upgraded" without losing some of the very characteristics that make it appealing. It's a minimalist interface, sure, but it does exactly what it needs to do.

To some extent, I also think the lack of bells and whistles serves a purpose similar to the registration fee. It's a lot less fun to troll when you have to actually write something and can't just click a down arrow or post a meme.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 4:59 PM on July 18 [45 favorites]


Nearly half of respondents don't see technical challenges? I've been vocal about this in the past but just because a 1960 Ford technically gets you from point A to point B doesn't mean a new car with digital dash, lane assist, etc. isn't better.

I had to move my car today, and my daughter's car.

I moved my car with no problem, 'cause hey, I know how to drive my car.

I could not move or even start my daughter's car. I had seen her start it multiple times, just from her electronic key ring, so I figured it had a button to start it. Nope! It had buttons to lock and unlock it, set an alarm and something else, but not obvious way to start the car.

It has a digital dash, lane assist, etc, but there was no obvious way to drive the car ie there was no clear way to do the one thing that you need a car to do, aka move. All the electronic bells and whistles are great, but none of it helped me do the one thing I needed to do.

Technology is not a cure all nor necessarily better.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:04 PM on July 18 [30 favorites]


Nearly half of respondents don't see technical challenges?

That may be how the question was phrased. I don't see technical "challenges" in the sense that the site works for me, technically. I would, at the same time, love to see it modernized.
posted by lapis at 5:07 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


re: technical challenges:

About 27% percent of responses for Q3 - MF strengths - highlighted what I tagged as "format", but which almost always boiled down to the presentation. A lot of folks do, in fact, like a 1960 Ford. :) However! In Q5, almost 15% said that they DID have issues with the site, mostly on mobile. So this might be a case of how people are physically interacting with the site. Could also be based on subsite, or their commenting frequency, or etc. Certainly something to explore in the future.

There were also a number of accessibility issues noted. So I think there is both room and need to make some code changes to MF that allow it to be more of a Transformer. Want to drive the 1960 Ford? You got it. Want to hop out and let the robot take over? Also you got it. :) I have more thoughts on this subject but want to save them for another post. Let us know if there are specific things around Q5 you'd like us to take another look at and we can see what else is there.
posted by curious nu at 5:13 PM on July 18 [9 favorites]


Quick addendum: this is not to suggest that accessibility needs are in the same category as super future robots! They should be basic things baked in to the site for everyone. I got excited about a Transformers metaphor.
posted by curious nu at 5:14 PM on July 18 [20 favorites]


Can I drive the 1960 Edsel Ranger/ diadone mobile interface Mark V comment preview warning Iite and ring tone?
I was thinking "Shop Round"- 1960 by "The Miracles"...........(runs)
posted by clavdivs at 6:37 PM on July 18


And conversely, thinking of specific geography effects annoying people, how badly the Australian Drinking Hours problem affects moderators…

Oh sure, kick your boots off, knock back a few brews and boy, talk about getting off on the wrong foot: one find one's self canceled next morning by a funnel web spider what moved into the right chukka while one slept. Envenomed or not, with the oversupply of lethal critters abounding in Oz, it's a wonder there are Australians, let Australian Drinking Hours at all.
posted by y2karl at 8:30 PM on July 18


Incredible amount of care and work. Thank you.
posted by latkes at 9:45 PM on July 18 [7 favorites]


Note to self: always start reading from the bottom of any MetaTalk thread. The jokes down there make no sense but they capture my attention much more readily.

Also, great job. Excelsior!
posted by not_on_display at 10:06 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


All I want to ask now is how does Brandon Blatcher's daughter's car work
posted by Pyrogenesis at 11:19 PM on July 18 [18 favorites]


Oh sure, kick your boots off, knock back a few brews and boy, talk about getting off on the wrong foot: one find one's self canceled next morning by a funnel web spider what moved into the right chukka while one slept. Envenomed or not, with the oversupply of lethal critters abounding in Oz, it's a wonder there are Australians, let Australian Drinking Hours at all.

It's clearly drinking hours in y2karl's location.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 12:01 AM on July 19 [6 favorites]


how badly the Australian Drinking Hours problem affects moderators

Hey, that me! I usually have the Down Under Drinking Hours shift! (DUDHs) I have a soft spot for the Aussies and Kiwis; they are usually very entertaining, and usually rather sweet, and are typically good company, even in their cups.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:32 AM on July 19 [7 favorites]


All I want to ask now is how does Brandon Blatcher's daughter's car work

You have to push buttons on the keyring multiple times in a specific sequence to start the car.

Which i should do, to get the hell out of this thread, what with the way people consistently feel the need to turn it into something else.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:12 AM on July 19 [4 favorites]


I’ve often wondered about how strongly the focus on the politics of the US figures in negativity/positivity for people outside that country.

I'm pretty sure I mentioned this, one of the 36 who mentioned US-centrism as a problem. This seems low to me, which suggests it actually is a more major problem that has driven users from the rest of the world away.

For me it's not only politics but general cultural assumptions that people don't even know they're making. This is a problem with the internet in general, though, and actually at least on MeFi I think people are more open to trying to understand that the entire world is not like America once they realise what they're doing.

Really interesting to read the results, thanks to all who worked on this!
posted by Balthamos at 1:13 AM on July 19 [11 favorites]


Thanks for this update.

In future can we please get a list of abbreviations and acroynms used either at the start of the post, in context for first usage :eg Steering Committee (SC), or at the end?

No everyone reading is going to know what they all mean, example- FPP isn't a universal term. I understand what it means but don't think everyone would.

Thank you.
posted by Faintdreams at 2:19 AM on July 19 [4 favorites]


I'm pretty sure I mentioned this, one of the 36 who mentioned US-centrism as a problem. This seems low to me, which suggests it actually is a more major problem that has driven users from the rest of the world away.

I also think I mentioned this and would have expected it to be higher.
posted by knapah at 2:26 AM on July 19 [7 favorites]


On the technical challenges note: while I'm the very first person to advocate for improvements in Mefi's tech for accessibility and participation reasons, it's not at all surprising to me that a lot of people, particularly non-posters, find the site generally fine to use.

As Brandon says, stability and familiarity has a lot going for it and to be honest, compared to (say) new Reddit, Metafilter is really a very responsive and easy-to-understand site for a lot of things.
posted by adrianhon at 2:27 AM on July 19 [7 favorites]


I'm curious about the responses and how many people talked about there being some sort of bad actors that are purposefully using the site in some wrong or abusive or harmful way, and how they characterized them.

I keep seeing this idea raised in one form or another over, even here in this thread. I'm pretty certain people don't always mean the same sort of circumstances or the same type of people.

Personally, I find it hard to guess when people have ill intent on here, but then I don't think you need ill intent to cause harm. Regardless, I'm curious about what people are seeing that I've perhaps missed or contextualized differently.
posted by Chrysopoeia at 3:54 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


If I could have one technical pony, it would improving large threads on mobile. Once there are a few hundred comments on a page, it becomes increasingly clunky.

Back during the 2016 US election megathreads, I hacked together a little tool that ingested comments from the RSS feed, put them on a single HTML page (sans JavaScript), and served it as a web page. I could then browse that page from my phone, wherever I happened to be.

There were zero performance issues. None. That page contained all of the same content – but it performed worlds better than the "official" MeFi version.

Granted, it lacked some of the functionality (favoriting, flagging, the comment form) – but there's no reason that such features, properly coded, should have such an enormous impact on performance.

I haven't done any troubleshooting, but I suspect that MetaFilter registers a click handler for every single clickable element. With hundreds or thousands of clickable elements on the page, that would certainly bog things down.

The more performant way is to register one click handler on a common parent element – and then, in the handler, determine which specific element was clicked, and what (if anything) needs to be done in response.

That's just a guess. But there's gotta be a way to fix this issue. Even having the option to switch to a "minimalist" mode would be a decent fix.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 3:54 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I also mentioned US centrism as a problem, and I'm also surprised it's not higher up.

On a related note: thanks everyone for the work you've put into this! Impressive and feels really good - you care and you are a thoughtful bunch!
posted by kmt at 3:55 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


If I could have one technical pony, it would improving large threads on mobile. Once there are a few hundred comments on a page, it becomes increasingly clunky.

FWIW I've always found the classic theme to be significantly more performant on large threads /than the modern theme on older Android devices.
posted by Dysk at 4:02 AM on July 19


I'm a non-american who filled out the survey and if i recollect my responses correctly, i don't find the US-centrism a problem, because i never thought of metafilter as anything but an American website or at least one serving a mainly american audience. I have no illusions about it, and when I do I browse the AskMes. If anything, what I thought is an issue is the intra-American problem - there was a moment but notably I've observed there're fewer FPPs and posts in general on current black americana (as a demographic example) and if there are, less quality engagement because those with the experience have decided not to engage with the posts or comments. And when it comes organically (like this year's Oscars thread) it goes sideways in visibly unwilling to consider the cultural context kinda way (no, I'm not begging for a relitigation on this).

So no, I've never been precious about who this site's core userbase is. But within that it's extremely sheltered.
posted by cendawanita at 5:16 AM on July 19 [17 favorites]


This is the first I've learnt of this survey, via the banner. Did you use a banner at the top to advertise it? I'm sorry I missed it, though I suppose my response would broadly correspond with these results.

I didn't know there was so much activity in AskMe. My first interaction there backfired very badly, partially my fault for giving incomplete information. People filled in the blanks and the person they replied to certainly deserved their scorn. By the time I set them straight, breaking my anonymity, everyone had moved on. I've asked a few trivial questions for fun since, but I won't ask a personal question again.

Across the broader internet many people are unhindered by problems with literacy when it comes to participation. It didn't occur to me that such people would be too intimidated to post alongside our highly literate users. It seems the quality of communication we enjoy may be at the expense of participation. I would regret the broken english of reddit or quora becoming the norm here, but I'd encourage people to try their best rather than not at all.
posted by adept256 at 6:47 AM on July 19 [5 favorites]


We had a banner and a post in Ask as well as here, but very sorry you missed it. I frequently miss banners myself.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:52 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


I doubt I would have said that US-centrism was a problem, in answer to the "non-technical challenge to participation" question (which is where the 36 people stat came from).

But I definitely said something along the lines that having more contributors from outside the US would be a good thing. From memory that might have been in the "future of metafilter" question. So whilst I didn't say it was a problem, I did identify it as an area for improvement. I wonder if anyone else did the same?

I'm also going to guess that a predominantly USian userbase isn't generally going to view US-centrism as an issue.
posted by pianissimo at 8:57 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


Sorry to be late adding this … I tagged and reviewed the ‘what do you want the future to look like” responses, and something along the lines of “more international users would be a good thing” was mentioned by a non-trivial amount people for sure. I did not have time to break that out as a separate tag, but if/when we start digging into the data in more detail I think that’s one we can definitely work on.
posted by valleys at 9:28 AM on July 19 [9 favorites]


Thank you to all who put in the time and effort to work to better the site. That includes the SC, the mods, the New Owner, and the survey respondents. I look forward to hearing more after additional data analysis is completed.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:48 AM on July 19 [3 favorites]


Thank you to the team and everyone who has worked on this. It is so obvious how much thought and care and hard work have gone into it. Applause and appreciation to you, huzzah! <3
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:13 PM on July 19 [3 favorites]


Seeing the notes about accessibility issues was really good, particularly about the colors; the subsite colors are part of MF’s identity, but that shouldn’t get in the way of making things readable, so the SC should look at ways to increase customizability for the site presentation.

I'm pretty sure I mentioned it in my survey response, but yeah, that's probably the one suggestion I had to offer that could actually be implemented in a straightforward way: a "night mode". Make things easier on our poor, aging eyes. If traditionalist-to-a-fault Microsoft Word got one, Metafilter can too. For those of us who want the professional white background, but inverted. Professional dark.
posted by naju at 1:58 PM on July 19 [3 favorites]


You can set that by clicking the "dark mode" button on any of the main *.metafilter.com pages, can't you?
posted by sagc at 2:02 PM on July 19


You can set that by clicking the "dark mode" button on any of the main *.metafilter.com pages, can't you?

I was thinking the same thing so I tested it on my phone and boy howdy did it take a long time to find the dark mode toggle. It was between posts more than half way down the homepage. I was going round and round in preferences and ended up stumbling upon it.

Is it possible to add the dark/light mode options to preferences (unless I am missing something?)? Thanks.
posted by terrapin at 2:37 PM on July 19


1. I don't see this "dark mode" option anywhere, control + F does not find the word "dark" for me and I don't remember ever seeing a moon, just the ☃. I agree it would make sense to put it in preferences with the other themes.

2. Now back to your regularly-scheduled thread limited to Q&A about the survey results.

posted by aniola at 4:30 PM on July 19 [2 favorites]


I will just quickly note that the "dark mode" being referred to is more like "usual background with subsite colors" than it is an actual professional dark mode like I requested ("professional white background, but inverted", basically). And now I will stop wantonly derailing this thread.
posted by naju at 5:16 PM on July 19


I have never seen or heard of this dark mode, but also find the default mefi blue to be dark enough - I tend to want dark mode to avoid bright shining white.

I'm guessing the fact that I'm on Classic mobile probably has something to do with not knowing about this? Is it a modern theme innovation?
posted by Dysk at 12:43 AM on July 20 [2 favorites]


I took screenshots for the avoidance of doubt. This is classic theme dark mode on mobile.
posted by thoroughburro at 4:38 AM on July 20


And here's where to find the 'modern dark' theme, in the options for preferences.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:41 AM on July 20


Or actually, it looks like I might be on modern dark? Huh. Sorry if I added to the confusion!
posted by thoroughburro at 4:43 AM on July 20


Yeah, calling it “Modern Dark” is kind of misleading, as it’s not “dark” in the way “dark” has become used on the web (black or black-ish background). It would be best to rename the modern options to be more in-line with the naming of the classic options, i.e. Modern and Modern Plain.

It would also be nice if the choice of style is somehow keyed to the particular device. I like Modern on my iPad, but prefer Classic on my desktop. But changing it on one device changes it on both.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:58 AM on July 20


But changing it on one device changes it on both.

Can you check this? Our FAQ says the opposite. It's entirely possible things have changed since that was written in 2012, but I just want to make sure we have it right.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:12 AM on July 20


I've just tried flipping modes around on my laptop (Chrome, Windows 10) and mobile (Safari, iPhone). Changing mode on one does not affect the appearance of the other, but when I look at the mode settings, both devices show the same selection (whatever I picked most recently) rather than reflecting what they're currently using.

So if I start out with Modern on the laptop and Classic on the mobile, then change the laptop to Plain, and reload the preferences page on both devices, the mobile is still on Classic but the yellow selection box is around Plain.

If I then change the mobile to Modern Dark and reload the page on both devices, the laptop is still on Plain but now the yellow selection box is around Modern Dark.

(Apologies if that's not clearly enough described - it's very very hot at my desk and my brain has melted.)
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 8:36 AM on July 20


Thanks for running the survey and giving us this update. I didn't quite manage to participate (I got partway through, then life happened, then the survey closed) but it looks as if my views were shared by plenty of others.

It's weird not to be an outlier! Is this what it feels like to actually fit in somewhere?
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 8:45 AM on July 20 [7 favorites]


There was a survey?

Well, I have been swamped since last week of May with personal issues - OTOH, I would not have replied to free-form text anyways.

There are going to be people who are honestly new to a subject or idea, and who aren't as familiar with the wonkish minutiae as you might like them to be. They don't deserve to be written off as trolls.

Oh man - I can see the point of this - but also can see the point of people getting frustrated that they constantly have to provide the "emotional labour" to get people up-to-speed when they start participating in a thread. This was most apparent in many POC and non-CIS/traditional sexuality posts and their comments.

And then - things get heated and people button - I did - I was a member for nearly 18-years with a single account, and buttoned - sure, I continued to read MeFi/Ask/Fan/Talk, but I didn't have an account. That lasted a year, before I signed-up again, because for all of it's (and my) faults - there is nowhere else like it on the internet.
posted by rozcakj at 11:48 AM on July 20 [6 favorites]


(There is nothing wrong with emotional labor any more than there's something wrong with cleaning the kitchen. It's best when everyone pitches in.)
posted by aniola at 2:52 PM on July 20 [10 favorites]


It's best when everyone pitches in.

Well - I think this can be a problem with someone coming from an "out-group", in that their entire existance is a constant stream of providing emotional labour to the larger "in-group", and I am willing the bet that is an extremely tiring, stressful and depressing activity.

Yet - if they aren't willing to personally do it, there is no guarantee that anyone else will pitch in.

If no one else pitches in, the kitchen just gets dirtier and more disgusting...
posted by rozcakj at 8:45 AM on July 21 [3 favorites]


Great work! Is it a concern that some latent desires did not seem to show up in the responses? For example, the summary show no signs of a widespread desire for more potato posts, yet a few weeks after the survey was taken, it became clear that this was a major priority for site users.
posted by snofoam at 1:02 PM on July 17 [43 favorites +] [!]


AskMe aficionado since 2006 0r 2007, so this is NOT any kind of complaint. But,

Having read this, and replied to the survey, I have no idea whatsoever what "some latent desires" and "potato posts" are referring to. So, supplementing my survey answers, it appears that way too often, people talk about stuff that's not likely to be familiar to the group, without giving even a few words to orient the reader.
posted by JimN2TAW at 9:24 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


It's a joke about how people made a bunch of mefi posts about potatoes.
posted by sagc at 9:41 AM on July 21 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty sure I mentioned this, one of the 36 who mentioned US-centrism as a problem. This seems low to me, which suggests it actually is a more major problem that has driven users from the rest of the world away.

I'm another who mentioned this, I think. I don't see it as a problem necessarily, just a characteristic of the site and community that is perfectly logical given the member base, but one that does colour the nature of discussions a lot. A lot. It's likely not even noticeable much to those in the US. Again, not a problem, but a more international perspective would be an improvement.
posted by dg at 11:30 PM on July 21 [5 favorites]


You're unlikely to get a more international perspective while the existing userbase is as US-centric as it is. It's the little things, like starting out FPPs or comments about "our" something, or "we" something, when referring to the US. Never specifying that you're talking about the US, just assuming. There are UK politics posts, Canadian vi politics posts, etc, and then there are politics posts, maybe presidential politics posts or midterm politics posts. As long as that is the case, and the latter are not US politics posts, US presidential politics, etc, etc, you will be pushing a lot of people away with a signal that this place isn't for you, it's for Americans.
posted by Dysk at 1:16 AM on July 22 [11 favorites]


I cannot remember now but i think i did mention US dominance (the "we" usage etc which sometimes really grates me in the Ukraine thread, being from and living in Central Europe) but then i might have deleted it before submitting the form.

The US centrism to me is mostly something i accept as part of the site. I don't mind googling who for example Cory Doctorow is, or Ben Shapiro.

However, occasionally it hurts. For example, reading the comment above, re Bad-faith actors specifically in the Ukraine thread, abusing the mods willingness to listen to people, which refers to the Ukraine thread as a particular example (i believe that in the example i am Person B), if my (admittedly very much overemotional) postings there, shaped by being and living in Austria, pleading for less nuclear war talk, if this indeed makes me a bad faith actor well, what can i say. I did not act in bad faith, is all.
posted by 15L06 at 2:01 AM on July 22 [8 favorites]


I'm a non-american who filled out the survey and if i recollect my responses correctly, i don't find the US-centrism a problem, because i never thought of metafilter as anything but an American website or at least one serving a mainly american audience. I have no illusions about it, and when I do I browse the AskMes.

Nthing this - I am a non-American who didn't fill in the survey but it would never occur to me to highlight that as a problem. In the same way that I would not consider it a problem if the menu of an [insert specific country's cuisine] restaurant does not contain a large number of dishes from [insert any other country's] cuisine. This is an American site and that is reflected in all things. The rest of the world tags along as it sees fit, or not as the case may be.

If users would like to seek out a greater range of perspectives then seek them out (actively). And foster the kind of discussions where people can feel comfortable bringing up these perspectives. Which may or may not bring us back to the other points about tolerance in the widest sense.
posted by koahiatamadl at 3:00 AM on July 22 [10 favorites]


Thanks for all the work, we're going through Big Changes at both my jobs and I know how hard it is.

Count me along with those who don't mind that this is an American site, what else could it be? The vision of making it truly international is nice, but I think there needs to be one basic set of values that the mods can work from, and those are most naturally US based. Sometimes I don't understand them, but that is OK for me, because what I get in return is a really interesting site with thoughtful discussion based on good information and knowledge.
posted by mumimor at 1:11 AM on July 23 [11 favorites]


Yeah, there's just some really low hanging fruit in terms of language patterns that would be fairly painless to address, in the way that most language usage changes are.

That is not the same as easy, mind. It is rather the opposite, and people get disproportionately upset at being asked to think about or change even the most inconsequential or anodyne things.
posted by Dysk at 4:07 AM on July 23 [2 favorites]


(And broadly, those of us who are here will be alright with the status quo to some degree. That doesn't mean that everyone who left or never joined see it the same way.)
posted by Dysk at 4:09 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


Yeah, there's just some really low hanging fruit in terms of language patterns that would be fairly painless to address, in the way that most language usage changes are.

That is not the same as easy, mind. It is rather the opposite, and people get disproportionately upset at being asked to think about or change even the most inconsequential or anodyne things.


This jives with some thoughts I've been having about the site for the past few weeks, particularly about the site shifting (probably slowly and awkwardly) to a more community run site. I even wrote up a personal MeTa about it that I keep debating whether to post.

Anyway speaking just for myself, I think Metafilter becoming a community run site and having many members behave like it's a community run site will be like slow moving boat. It would be great if people recognize that the site is a shared space, with few, if any, private spaces. Hopefully people will start to recognize and act with the knowledge that what they do on the site can and does affect others on the site, so they'll bring a positive attitude to our shared space. Not in a relentlessly perky sort of way, but just do more listening and less assuming the worst of others. And have more fun.

After all, why are we all here? Broadly speaking, I think it's for fun. Yeah, the world is a bit of shit show right now and maybe we argue too readily to try and gain some scrap of control of the current shitshow. But that doesn't mean we have repeatedly have the same arguments, take the worst possible reading of others comments, or behave like an ass, just because we're angry. 97.473638% of us here lean left, so do we really need to metaphorically fight each other in a white castle parking lot?

Anyway, that's my soapbox for the day and again, just my personal view, not any sort of view of the TT.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:55 AM on July 23 [11 favorites]


97.473638% of us here lean left, so do we really need to metaphorically fight each other in a white castle parking lot?

IDK, Brandon, I seem to recall some absolutely indefensible barbecue opinions you've expressed in the past--

(More seriously: I wish there was a better distinction we could draw between real fighting and play fighting about things we agree don't really matter, like regional food preferences* and toilet paper roll orientation. Play is a way we practice being in conflict while also affirming that we do in fact respect one another on the levels that matter, and it can also serve as a way to blow off some of the tension that we're all nigh universally carrying around these days.)

*yes of course I can envision a worst case scenario where snobbery etc classism etc regionalism etc but look, vinegar based barbecue is an abomination and mustard is not to be bourne. I can sincerely believe that another person on this site can be perfectly clever and have many fine opinions and beliefs that genuinely enrich my life for knowing them and also believe that their aesthetic sense is deeply, deeply fucked for strange and personal reasons.

and of course all this is me speaking purely personally for myself and no one else, etc etc.
posted by sciatrix at 6:42 AM on July 23 [5 favorites]


I love how many comments in this thread are essentially saying, "We're not intolerant of unpopular viewpoints ... and I'll fight anyone who tells me different!"
posted by panama joe at 6:53 AM on July 23 [5 favorites]


Hi! I'm back from a trip to the sea and wanted to drop in and say that I was very happy and honored to be a part of the scrappy volunteer team of survey taggers. I love it here, I want it to thrive, and I want to gently rerail this MeTa so that questions and answers about the survey results can have the spotlight.
posted by kimberussell at 8:23 AM on July 23 [4 favorites]


It's the little things, like starting out FPPs or comments about "our" something, or "we" something, when referring to the US. Never specifying that you're talking about the US, just assuming.

and then there's Canadian me who, dependent on context, will sometimes use the American "we", sometimes not. Because on some issues, our cultures feel more aligned than not. Guns, privatized medicine, burning flags, ravenous troll creatures as problematic ex-Presidents -- we're going to be coming from different angles on that stuff. Your favourite band sucks, Star Wars is overrated, the strange world of high-speed semi-automated genre fiction -- we're all in these together, I suspect.

The broader point, I suppose, is not that the new and improved Metafilter (TM) should just ignorantly/arrogantly wrap itself up in Ugly Americanism, but neither should it trip itself up in trying to be all things to all nations at all times. I do think the restaurant analogy is a good one. I don't think we need multilingual menus. But if it gets pointed that that pouteen is actually spelled poutine -- that's an easy adjustment to make.
posted by philip-random at 8:54 AM on July 23 [4 favorites]


So the vibe I'm getting here is that metafilter is an American site for American people, and the membership is fine with that, people from elsewhere can turn up and participate I guess, but if there is anything they don't like about it, they can fuck off.

Nice.
posted by Dysk at 12:18 AM on July 24 [6 favorites]


In a recent thread on a US topic a European member has been told their contributions are not relevant or welcome. In pretty much every thread specifically about European or other non-US-centric topics, American users will invariably comment about how the topic plays out in Nebraska or Ohio or wherever and this conversation is normally picked up and carried rather than shut down. Seems that’s how the site is supposed to work according to a lot of people.
posted by Balthamos at 2:31 AM on July 24 [7 favorites]


Hello, everyone. Please refer to this comment from mochapickle. Thanks.
posted by taz (staff) at 3:15 AM on July 24 [2 favorites]


So the vibe I'm getting here

Hey Dysk, I was one of the taggers/reviewers for Question 2, the question about how people feel about participating on the site. And the US-centrism concern definitely popped up. An interest in more diverse perspectives popped up a lot. An appreciation for having contributing members all over the world certainly popped up.

We as a community absolutely need to have these big conversations as we move toward a more community-based model. But we're still at the summary stage for the survey results. High level. It's impossible for us as a community to have detailed, realistic, actionable conversations about major topics until we all have access to a detailed, realistic, actionable level of results. Otherwise, it's all just talk.

That's why the survey helpers have been trying to urge folks to try to focus the comments right now to Q&A about the survey itself.

One of our findings was that MetaTalk isn't exactly democratic. Lots of people don't participate in this particular subsite. The survey is important because it represents those voices. Waiting for more granular and detailed survey results allows those voices to be heard.

On preview, thanks taz.
posted by mochapickle at 4:04 AM on July 24 [11 favorites]


And Dysk, I’m groggy and rereading this and my comment after the first paragraph wasn’t directed at you specifically. Was just catching up on the tail end of where the discussion has been heading in this thread.

Thanks, everyone.
posted by mochapickle at 4:49 AM on July 24 [2 favorites]


So the vibe I'm getting here is that metafilter is an American site for American people, and the membership is fine with that, people from elsewhere can turn up and participate I guess, but if there is anything they don't like about it, they can fuck off.

If anyone is curious what "the worst possible reading of others comments" looks like in practice, this is a very good example.
posted by neroli at 6:45 AM on July 24 [33 favorites]


My apologies mochapickle and TT for jumping onto the derail.
posted by 15L06 at 9:33 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


Hi everyone! We have another post going up tomorrow on the big next steps. I'm going to ask the mods to close this thread once it's live, because we can only monitor so much at once -- if you have future questions about the survey (methodology, queries about trends, etc) PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE either email us at metafiltertransitionteam@gmail.com or memail me directly and I'm happy to chat more about it. :)
posted by curious nu at 10:30 AM on July 24 [3 favorites]


I am of the opinion that the TT needs to decide as a team about whether comments should be off or on in this next post. It’s absolutely not a great thing to find this out as a de racto act and done deal in a public comment.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:22 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


Whoops! Okay, retract my comment, looks like we weren't on the same page about that. More to come.
posted by curious nu at 11:39 AM on July 24


Thank you!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:01 PM on July 24


I didn't even know there was a survey. Guess it's too late to participate? My number one grievance is about moderation. It is often inconsistent, with very different rules apparently applied in different situations and by different mods. I quit mefi for quite a while after people were allowed to personally attack me for an opinion about abortion they didn't like (especially grating because I have HAD an abortion before, and some of the attackers were apparently not capable of ever finding themselves pregnant), while also having watched my polite, mildly critical comments be zapped in other cases. I ultra-mega-hate when moderators remove comments in their entirety without explaining or even notifying users. So disrespectful! I've asked about this before and received one really tossed off explanation essentially stating it was no biggie that my comment was removed. But I resent spending time crafting a response only to have it casually zapped. The one I received the feedback on was not even political, it was a response to an ask about cats, absolutely on topic, polite, and already had multiple likes.
posted by Flock of Cynthiabirds at 8:42 PM on July 24 [11 favorites]


Flock of Cynthiabirds I believe i mentioned something to this effect in my survey reply if that helps. I have noticed that with less mods that this has been less of an issue. I also had a problem, perhaps unintentional, where a mod would delete a comment and then tell the user in question that it was inappropriate. Something the effect of, "Cut that out geoff., not appropriate" and then the original comment was deleted so it was impossible to tell what was being talked about, but I've seen that decrease/eliminated too.

My strong preference is that unless something is egregious and trolling that it be allowed stay. That's sometimes hard to determine, but I'd prefer the moderation err on the side of someone making a good faith comment.
posted by geoff. at 3:35 AM on July 25 [5 favorites]


I've had comments I've considered very carefully and worked on for lengthy periods summarily deleted as well. It's annoying, but it's also been a very valuable opportunity to remind myself that participation here is not all about me.

Learning to react with equanimity to an experience that I'm sure has been shared by every moderately prolific MeFite has certainly paid dividends in the rest of my life. It's a feature of this site, not a bug, and I'm a fan of it.
posted by flabdablet at 4:25 AM on July 25 [7 favorites]


*raises hand as another mefite with past deleted comments* (eta: and i don't have a problem about it, on the whole)
posted by cendawanita at 5:57 AM on July 25


It's a feature of this site, not a bug, and I'm a fan of it.

Not to pick on you flabdablet but I've seen this sentiment mentioned multiple times here on the gray. I've also seen people complain they're afraid to comment or participate due to deletions or pile-ons. To me it seems less about fostering a healthy community and more about enforcing a viewpoint. We could be talking past each other. I hate to be, "please give me an example" but I'd like for someone to provide me with a deletion that is not a troll and is not intentionally offensive (arguably both are sometimes hard to decide) that helped foster community. To me, I've seen deletions be seemingly used to guide which opinions are acceptable based on some minor infraction while others with that infraction stood because the content of the comment was otherwise acceptable. Mods are not perfect and do not catch everything but I will give an example.

I made a comment once, exact content I cannot remember, but was probably more conservative than the mainstream Metafilter opinion. It was made in good faith, and was thoughtful. I happened to use the term "crazy" as in "let us not go crazy here," which I've learned not to use and is offensive. However the term is still very much mainstream so it was a learning process to get it out my vocabulary. One common turn of phrase should not have resulted in the comment being deleted, I'm assuming it was flagged. The very same thread had someone refer to Trump as crazy and it stood. Perhaps the mods missed it or perhaps it was never flagged, etc. I felt in that case it was not definitely not fostering community and a much better approach would have been to simply ask me not to use the phrase (which I do not use anymore and I thank Metafilter for teaching me to use more inclusive language). It was, however, very off putting and I felt like the entire comment was nuked for overall content since other uses of the phrase elsewhere were left to stand.

So that is just one example, and may be a bit extreme but stands out. Even when users go back and forth in a thread I much prefer mods ask them to take it to e-mail rather than nuke it or if someone does maybe gets too passionate to take a break. If they continue the behavior sure delete it, but it is hard for us to learn acceptability if things are just deleted and makes participation feel sometimes self-defeating. It can make commenting here frankly exhausting.

I've learned to avoid threads, or try to avoid threads, that are particular triggering to people. It seems certain topics that "Metafilter doesn't do well" results in people be extremely sensitive. But I've been here a long time and I know the unspoken threads that seem to trigger deletions. Again, another example being fitness threads. To me that is a benign topic, but being here long enough I know to stay away from that topic or if I must being extremely careful how something is worded. These are things I think would be very off putting to both new and even existing members.
posted by geoff. at 11:15 AM on July 25 [4 favorites]


Whether a comment gets deleted depends on a complicated system of written and unwritten rules, as well as intangible factors of timing. (For instance "we've had X comments like this now so I'll delete new ones as a derail" or "no mod was on duty and there have been so many replies it's too late to delete it").

I think people who post on MetaTalk are more likely to have a sophisticated understanding of the system. What the survey may be revealing is that more casual users don't understand the system well and find it frustratingly opaque.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 11:23 AM on July 25 [2 favorites]


I've had comments I've considered very carefully and worked on for lengthy periods summarily deleted as well. It's annoying, but it's also been a very valuable opportunity to remind myself that participation here is not all about me.

Learning to react with equanimity to an experience that I'm sure has been shared by every moderately prolific MeFite has certainly paid dividends in the rest of my life. It's a feature of this site, not a bug, and I'm a fan of it.


MetaFilter need not be a social crucible that may or may not build character, to be a good website. Honestly, I think you make this a more difficult place to express ideas, and make this place represent the Internet less at large, with your dispositions.
posted by etc passwd at 11:28 AM on July 25 [3 favorites]


more casual users don't understand the system well and find it frustratingly opaque.

I think this probably reveals that we live in an era where algorithmic, as opposed to human, content filtering/curation/moderation has become so much the online norm that people simply assume that where moderation appears not to be done well, the problem is that the rules are not clear enough.

But the thing about hard and fast content moderation rules is that ultimately all they are is something that some person who makes a decision can point to in order to defend that decision if others disagree with it. Moderating a community of messy human beings is just an inherently messy process, and one thing I've long admired about the Metafilter response to that undeniable fact is just how absolutely unapologetically acknowledged it has always been here.

The quality of the moderation in these parts has much more to do with the quality of the moderators than anything else. Which may seem like a systemic weakness and perhaps it is, but when it comes right down to it the same is true everywhere regardless of how bright and shiny the aspirations reflected in the written rules appear to be.

The only way to disguise that truth is to do what the law does, and create such a comprehensive and contradictory collection of rules that a skilled practitioner can always find some precedent to cite in support of decisions of completely arbitrary arbitrariness. As the dismal example of the current US Supreme Court clearly demonstrates, if you have assholes in charge then the particular rules they choose to cite or ignore matter very little.

The main thing I love about this place is that it's not really for casual fly-in fly-outers. It's for people who want to stick around and make it better, and if in the process of doing that we happen to pick up attitudes and skills that prove personally valuable too, so be it.

Not to pick on you flabdablet

If anybody feels moved to rebut or disagree passionately with any of the above, please rest assured that I would in no way choose to interpret the result as any kind of personal affront. Seventeen years less MeFi ago, I almost certainly would have.

MetaFilter ought not be a crucible that builds character.

I'm quite content to agree to profound disagreement on that point.
posted by flabdablet at 11:51 AM on July 25 [2 favorites]


Mainly because every online forum is a crucible that builds some kind of character, and what I've seen and felt get built here stands out as fundamentally healthy. Which stands, of course, in stark contrast to what gets built by e.g. Facebook.
posted by flabdablet at 11:57 AM on July 25 [3 favorites]

MetaFilter ought not be a crucible ...
I'm quite content to agree to profound disagreement on that point.
Well, enjoy your crucible.
posted by etc passwd at 12:11 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


The stuff you're saying about Facebook is totally orthogonal.
posted by etc passwd at 12:17 PM on July 25


The main thing I love about this place is that it's not really for casual fly-in fly-outers.

There are no rules for Metafilter that require deep participation. Keep it as casual as you like! 😀
posted by tiny frying pan at 12:19 PM on July 25 [4 favorites]


Oh, I understand the system plenty. I've made hundreds of comments just in this incarnation, and have had two previous usernames with many more.

Ostensibly, the whole point of the survey was to get and incorporate user feedback. Multiple people just in this thread have given feedback about problems they've had with moderation, and it would be great if those issues were actually considered rather than swatted away and made the users' responsibility for supposedly not being active or informed enough.

One of the frustrating things about moderation here is that the comment disappears completely. There is no record of its ever existing, at least as far as the user can see. So, when someone memailed me asking for proof of my assertions, all I could do was paste in the one email I had from a mod. I don't have my original comments or even links to the posts in question and it would be hard to find them again after months or years. So, I don't even have the tools I need to argue against what I know to be untrue, the idea that rules are enforced fairly but somehow I just don't understand them.

I would love a pony that auto-emailed users when their comment is deleted, including the text of the comment and a reason why (could be a simple checkbox the mod completes).
posted by Flock of Cynthiabirds at 5:00 PM on July 25 [4 favorites]


it would be great if those issues were actually considered rather than swatted away and made the users' responsibility for supposedly not being active or informed enough.


Hey there! We tried to make sure the survey was visible all over the site, but clearly more work could be done in this area, sorry about that.

In the interest of making things better for the next time there's a survey, do you have any suggestions about what could be done to make it more visible?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:18 PM on July 25


Brandon Blatcher, I'd send emails to disabled and banned accounts. I'd send MeMails to a random sampling of users.
posted by etc passwd at 5:39 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


In the interest of making things better for the next time there's a survey, do you have any suggestions about what could be done to make it more visible?

If you're not active on Metatalk, the banner at the top is only a 10px font and for most of the time it displays irrelevant information. So the posts informing the users are a good, quick and dirty way to highlight things. However, really effective user surveys are going to unfortunately be popovers that gray out the site asking to take a quick survey. This and/or e-mails are going to get the highest engagement numbers. Companies like Verizon or Adobe use them, it is pretty common to use them in conjunction with things like Survey Monkey that collates the data and gives the dashboards to you. Survey software for the size of Metafilter is pretty cheap.

People will complain but you're going to get people either complaining they're nagged about a survey or they don't know about the survey. If you use one of the big survey companies you get the dashboard, the javascript markup for the overlay, collation of results, and usually some guarantee of PII being better protected. Also ad blockers for those of us who don't want to see it will pick it up and block it. Some will also work together with an email blast.

I would not email banned or disabled users. For one, I don't think they can get into the site to even disable notifications which is a huge PII issue. Second, it just feels insulting.

There's a lot out there besides SurveyMonkey: Typeform, Hotjar and a list of others. This is not my area of expertise I've just implemented it many times. Usually it is a little more random and less freeform than what was done here. "You just made a FPP, what did you like about it?" sort of thing.
posted by geoff. at 5:51 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


Edit: I've also done pretty sophisticated surveys that know exactly what users they're targeting. Logged in versus not logged in. Active versus not active. Users that spend x amount of time on the site versus y time on the site. Users that use specific subsections. Since posts themselves are tagged you also have a good way of segmenting engagement not only across sites but type of posts.

Again, I'm not a data scientist but you could not only up engagement, get higher quality data and constantly collect data. It helps that it just isn't a one week thing once a year to keep the quality up. Again, we're talking costs of like a hundred a month for some of these survey tools ... if that.

But one thing that is drilled into me is that you need to know what you want to get out of it. The survey was great perhaps to help gather some ideas of where Metafilter needs to improve but then develop metrics around those, make improvements and survey again, etc. Like for example you can ask how users would rate moderation and compare users with deleted comments versus not deleted comments. And then maybe not only to rate it on star basis but then drill down. Then over time make changes and see if moderation rating goes up.
posted by geoff. at 6:05 PM on July 25


Logged in versus not logged in. Active versus not active. Users that spend x amount of time on the site versus y time on the site. Users that use specific subsections. Since posts themselves are tagged you also have a good way of segmenting engagement not only across sites but type of posts.

One of the reasons I like Metafilter is that it *doesn't* track this sort of thing. This is a place for talking. Let data be captured by... talking. With people.
posted by CrystalDave at 6:25 PM on July 25 [6 favorites]


I would love a pony that auto-emailed users when their comment is deleted, including the text of the comment and a reason why

100% agree. I’ve had some comments deleted, and I generally think the deletions were warranted, but it’s confusing to see a thread in your recent activity, and then the next time you check it it’s not there. Alternatively, if there was a way to keep a thread in your activity even if your comment is deleted, that would help me be less confused. Following a thread and then having it disappear is not a great user experience.
posted by kevinbelt at 6:40 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


But people consistently don't know what they want. Talking is great, but people often say what they think they want people to hear or how they want to be perceived. It happens all the time here, and I've been guilty of it too. It also captures people who don't take the survey even if they know about it. Even anonymous surveys are notorious for people not saying what they really want, which is counterintuitive but we lie to ourselves a lot too.
posted by geoff. at 6:41 PM on July 25


I would love a pony that auto-emailed users when their comment is deleted, including the text of the comment and a reason why (could be a simple checkbox the mod completes).

Seems to me that this pony would probably comfort more people than it bites and make a welcome addition to our back paddock.
posted by flabdablet at 6:57 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


it’s confusing to see a thread in your recent activity, and then the next time you check it it’s not there.

Perhaps the same pony could also default to turning on the same internal flag that allows us to add threads to recent activity without having commented in them.
posted by flabdablet at 7:06 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


I'd send emails to disabled and banned accounts.

If that's even possible, it's an ability only of the mods and something I'd imagine they're unwilling to do. When someone disables their account that means they want to be on the site, so getting an email from said site would be not be good.

Banned folks have been removed from the site, so I'm not seeing why the mods would contact them after removing them.

I'd send MeMails to a random sampling of users.

There's no full proof method, IMO, we can try to do our best and community members can help spread the news.

Perhaps we need to have some sort of opt-in method where people can agree to being contacted about important site news, say via email, memail, and have a page on the site that lists said important site news chronologically, with the most recent at top.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:23 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


However, really effective user surveys are going to unfortunately be popovers that gray out the site asking to take a quick survey.

... "unfortunately" being the operative word. I know everyone finds them irritating, but for me it's more of an accessibility issue... things that move or pop up without my having deliberately triggered them are nails-on-a-blackboard distressing for me (sensory issues + startle reflex), which means Metafilter is one of vanishingly few places on the web I can still enjoy spending time, rather than having to get in, do what I need to, and get out again as quickly as possible.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 2:35 AM on July 26 [5 favorites]


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